KUALA LUMPUR, July 26 — Opposition lawmakers were up in arms after Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was absent from responding to questions about the National Recovery Plan (NRP) that he tabled in Parliament this morning.
The winding-up was delegated to Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz on behalf of the prime minister.
However, this did not go down well with the Opposition bench.
Pakatan Harapan (PH) leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim claimed Muhyiddin to be the first prime minister to have missed winding up a crucial government policy since Merdeka, and called it an affront to Parliament.
“What we have raised, issues of Covid-19 and the recovery plan, must be explained by the prime minister, or at the very least the deputy prime minister,” Anwar said.
“This is about the principle of respecting Parliament. I request that the Speaker intervene in the matter. If he cannot respond this evening, do it tomorrow morning.
“Don’t bulldoze it this way because it is not the field of competence of the finance minister,” the Port Dickson MP said.
This morning, Muhyiddin held a briefing on the National Recovery Plan and explained the government’s response to the coronavirus crisis, which drew heat from Opposition MPs who demanded Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun open up the floor for debate.
Today’s proceeding is the first of a five-day special sitting convened seven months after the Emergency was invoked.
Several Pakatan Harapan MPs aired their grievances about Muhyiddin’s absence, saying they had waited for this moment to demand an explanation about the prime minister’s handling of the public health crisis.
Anwar said he held the Lower House speaker responsible for allowing Muhyiddin to make a mockery of Parliament by avoiding questions about the crisis.
“Never in the history of this House, since Independence, substantive questions for the prime minister, matters of the Constitution, matters of the Emergency are explained by the finance minister,” the Opposition leader said.
“Never before! Speaker, do not let the prime minister make a mockery of this House. If you do, we hold you responsible. The Speaker must have courage,” he added.
Azhar responded to the criticism by merely muting the microphones of MPs who spoke at the time.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, who was present in the House, later explained that Tengku Zafrul was winding up as the coordinating minister appointed to oversee the NRP.